Coughs are something that are familiar to all of us, but sometimes they plague us. A persistent cough can range from annoying to incapacitating. Cough is one of the most common symptoms, playing a part in pathologies as diverse as lung conditions to stomach conditions. They can be due to something obvious, such as an obstruction in the airway to something obfuscated, such as acid reflux. Some coughs are due to bacteria, and respond to antibiotics, while others are mechanical and do not.
Allopathic medicine commonly deals with coughs by prescribing cough syrups to soothe the throat, antibiotics to deal with potential bacterial infections and steroids to reduce inflammation. Unfortunately, in the modern era, this go to treatment strategy is helping to produce new strains of bacteria that are antibiotic resistant, and in turn, cough is becoming more difficult to treat. A recent study of about 2000 patients in 12 different countries found that over prescription of antibiotics in the treatment of cough is making coughs tougher to treat.
Chinese medicine approaches cough from a completely different perspective. By looking at the pathologies underlying coughs, Chinese medicine is able to prescribe herbal formulas whose strategies range from moistening dryness to descending the qi of the Lungs.
In my practice, I’ve seen coughs that were caused by excess phlegm in the lungs, coughs due to deficiency of the Kidneys, and coughs due to external invasion of a pathogen (such as those found in the common cold). All were treated quickly and successfully with Chinese herbs.
Before taking herbs, one of the most common remedies for cough is the use of honey. In 2007, a group of researchers conducted a study comparing the use of a small dose of honey vs cough syrup. They found that honey consistently bested cough syrup as a cough suppressant.
If you’re having trouble with cough, you may want to see if Chinese medicine has anything to offer you.
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